A Toledo man who recovered from gunshot wounds he received after being shot by the owner of a store he was trying to rob, was sentenced in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Tuesday to 15 years behind bars.
Steve A. James, 31, of 413 Elmdale Court, pleaded no contest Oct. 6 to one count of aggravated robbery with a gun specification and one count of having a firearm as a felon. He also admitted that he violated his community control on previous felony cases when he committed the crime.
Judge Frederick McDonald sentenced James to nine years in prison for the robbery charge consecutive to three years for the gun specification. He was also sentenced to three years for the weapons charge.
Authorities said James entered Allied Music, 2025 South Byrne Rd., at about noon March 12 and asked the clerk if the store was hiring. When told no, the suspect left, only to return a few minutes later with a handgun that he pointed at the employee's head while demanding $200 in cash.
At the time, Eric Bilger, a co-owner of the store who has a license to carry a concealed weapon, was in the back of the store. The employee led James to the back of the store and alerted Mr. Bilger that he needed help.
Mr. Bilger shot at the defendant after seeing James with a gun.
James fled from the store and collapsed nearby. He had been shot in the right wrist, right forearm, and left hip.
James tearfully told Judge McDonald that he was not a "gun-toting thug" but instead was frustrated by the circumstances of being a convicted felon without many job opportunities. He asked that he be given a sentence that would allow him to return to his three children and be a father to them.
As he was led from the courtroom after his sentence, James repeatedly said that he "didn't deserve" the sentence that was handed down.
In addition to the 15 years James received for the recent incident, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for violating community control. Judge McDonald gave him credit for the nearly 3,500 days already served on those earlier cases.
According to court records, James was sentenced in March, 2001, to 10 years in prison after entering pleas in two aggravated robbery cases. After denying several requests, Judge James Jensen granted James judicial release on Oct. 2, 2009, after he had served most of his sentence.
At the time, Judge Jensen ordered James to four years of community control including 60 days in work release followed by 90 days on electronic monitoring. He was released from electronic monitoring Feb. 27.
According to court officials, James had 104 days left to serve on his sentence.
The incident at Allied Music occurred less than two weeks after James was released from electronic monitoring on the previous felony case.